By the 13th century
Southampton had become a leading port, specifically associated with the import
of French wine in exchange for English cloth and wool. However in 1338 the
French ships Genoese and Monegasque refused to use Southampton. Edward III
ordered walls to be built around the town in 1339, half of which remain today
along with 13 towers and 6 gates. In the 1920's and also in 1938 the medieval
walls were partially demolished to aid with increasing traffic congestion,
although large sections of the walls still exist today.
The Titanic, the
Spitfire and a variety of modern day cruise ships are affiliated with
Southampton. RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton in 1912. The flying boats of
Imperial Airways set up base in Southampton in 1938. The port continued to
develop and Southampton Container Terminals dates back to 1968, adding to the
busy cruise ship industry based at the port. At present Southampton remains
home to luxury cruise ships, as well as being the largest freight port on the
Channel coast and fourth largest UK port by tonnage, with several container
R J Mitchell, the
designer of the spitfire lived and developed the plane in Southampton; he based
the design around the Schneider trophy winning seaplanes of the 1920's/30's.
As a result of a Royal
Charter in 1952, the University College at Highfield was upgraded to the University
of Southampton. There are now around 40,000 students in total who attend either
the University of Southampton or Southampton and Solent University. In July
2007, the Daily Echo quoted a survey which described Southampton as one of the
best places to live in the UK for single people aged 18 to 30.
Opened in 2000, the West
Quay is Southampton’s main retail centre and is also one of the biggest in
England. Southampton was ranked 13th best shopping centre in 2007. The city’s
first skyscrapers along the waterfront are one of many major development ideas
proposed for Southampton. There are also plans for a 15-storey hotel at the
Ocean Village marina, and a 21-storey hotel on the north eastern area of the
city centre, as part of a £100m development.
The city is home to the
longest surviving stretch of medieval walls in England, as well as a number of
museums such as Tudor House Museum, Southampton Maritime Museum, God's House
Tower, the Medieval Merchant's House and Solent Sky. A Titanic Memorial Museum
is planned. Having gained half a million pounds from the National Lottery and
interest from numerous private investors, the £28 million project opened in
2012 - the 100th anniversary year of the disastrous maiden voyage.
The annual Southampton
Boat Show is held in September each year, with over 600 exhibitors present. It
runs for just over a week at Mayflower Park on the city's waterfront, where it
has been held since 1968. The Boat Show itself is the climax of Sea City, a
festival that celebrates Southampton's ties with the sea and it takes place
from April through to September each year.
The largest theatre in
the city is the 2,300 capacity Mayflower Theatre, which has hosted West End
shows such as Les Miserables, The Rocky Horror Show and Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang, as well as frequent visits from Welsh National Opera and English National
The City Art Gallery,
the Millais Gallery and the Art House are among some of the contemporary art
galleries located around Southampton. In August 2009, work commenced on a
significant scheme to create an Arts Quarter in the City Centre, on land
adjacent to the Guildhall.
Craig David, Coldplay
drummer Will Champion, former Holloway’s singer Rob Skipper and alternative
rock bands Band of Skulls, The Delays and Thomas Tantrum as well as 1980s pop
star Howard Jones were all born in Southampton.
Southampton is home to
Southampton Football Club -"The Saints"-who play in the Football
League Premiership at St Mary's Stadium. 1976 saw them defeat Manchester United
in a shock win to lift the FA Cup. One of the biggest and most respected clubs
in Hampshire, Southampton Hockey Club was founded in 1938. Southampton’s
various marinas supply yachting and a number of other water sport activities.
Southampton's Ocean Village marina was the base of the Whitbread Round the World
yacht race from 1977 to 2001. Dating back to 1299, Southampton Old Bowling
Green is the world's oldest green.
Southampton has been
dubbed the Green City, due to its large number of green spaces and parks. Southampton
Common is the largest with 148 hectares which can be used for summer festivals,
fairs and circuses.
Other interesting facts
about Southampton include:
- From 1806 to 1809 Jane
Austen lived in Southampton at her brother’s house.
- Abbreviations for the
city include "So'ton" or "Soton".
- The Black Death broke
out across England in 1348, being brought into the country via merchant ships
using Southampton's port.
- Southampton earned the
title the Gateway to the Empire once the railway connection to London was
opened in 1840.
- In 1964 Southampton was
granted city status.
- Southampton is situated
upon chalk beds within the Hampshire Basin.